NFL finance committee reportedly has reservations about Josh Harris' bid to buy Commanders from Dan Snyder
The NFL's finance committee took its first detailed look at Josh Harris' bid to buy the Washington Commanders on Wednesday and came away with concerns, the Washington Post reports.
A source told the Post that questions were raised during the meeting about the "unusually large number of limited partners" involved in Harris' tentative bid to purchase the franchise from Dan Snyder. Per NFL rules, no ownership group is allowed to exceed 25 partners. It's unclear if Harris' group approaches or exceeds that number.
The Post cited three sources familiar with the NFL's inner workings that told the paper that the committee's reservations don't mean that the deal will be rejected; but that it is "increasingly unlikely" that franchise owners will be able to approve the deal at their their May 22-23 meeting in Minneapolis as previously hoped. The next scheduled owners meetings are slated for October. The league could presumably call a special meeting in the meantime if needed to approve a sale.
The Harris group, Commanders and NFL all declined comment to the Post about the report.
Harris is a private equity investor and majority owner of the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils. His group reached a preliminary agreement with Snyder on April 13 to buy the team for $6 billion.
Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that since April 17, Harris has sold close to $106 million in stock of Apollo Global Management Inc., the private equity firm he cofounded before leaving the company in 2022. NFL rules require that a lead investor must have at least a 30% equity stake in a purchase.
(Disclosure: Josh Harris is a co-founder of Apollo Global Management, which owns Yahoo, Inc. He left the private equity firm in 2022.)
Snyder has owned the Commanders since 1999 and overseen its decline from a franchise that previously won three Super Bowls to one that hasn't advanced past the divisional round of the playoffs in his 24 years as club owner.
Snyder was pressured to sell amid a litany of scandals including Congressional inquiries allegations of financial fraud and accusations by more than 40 women of sexual harassment and a toxic workplace culture under his leadership. There is motivation in and around the league to get the deal done.
“Everyone wants it to get done,” a source told the Post. “I’m not saying it can’t get done. I don’t know. We’ll have to see.”
The eight-member finance committee will continue to take a closer look at the deal's financial aspects, sources told the Post. Wednesday's was the first day of the vetting process. The finance committee generally makes its recommendation on proposed sales before they're sent to NFL team owners. A sale requires ratification by 24 of the league's 32 franchise owners.
Kansas City Chiefs team owner Clark Hunt chairs the finance committee. Hunt declined comment after Wednesday's meeting and previously deferred to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for any league comment on the pending sale. While the sale remains tentative, it is open to other bidders.